Obama, Romney, and Women’s Healthcare

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In this election, arguments about women’s healthcare have often focused on abortion and contraception coverage. While I agree these are important issues, I would like to share my views from the perspective of a female cancer patient. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare,” requires insurance companies to cover such preventative services as breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40, breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk, and annual screenings for cervical cancer. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obamacare, meaning many women could lose these important benefits from their paid insurance plans.

Even worse is the Republican plan, or lack thereof, for the many women currently without coverage. When money is tight, women are often the family members who go uncovered because we are often charged as much as three times the insurance rates of men (a problem Obamacare resolves as of 2014). I know many hard-working women — single and married — who are self-employed or work jobs that offer no insurance coverage and who can’t afford to pay for coverage themselves. Many married women whose spouse has a good health insurance policy still go uncovered because of the high cost of adding family coverage. Obamacare will make more options available to ALL women when the program goes into full force in 2014. But meanwhile, women without coverage need Planned Parenthood….

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Breaking the Silence

October 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Family, Front Page, Slideshow, Social Action, Women

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While brokenness is all around us, and much of it is quite apparent, there’s one form still hidden in darkness—a darkness I have known.

News stories break, from time to time, reminding us that this netherworld exists. In November 1987, Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum were arrested for the murder of their young daughter, Lisa. We sat glued to our televisions during that trial and eventually learned that both Lisa, and Hedda, had been violently abused by Mr. Steinberg. In June 1994, the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson sparked the sensational trial of her ex-husband, O.J., and again we sat glued to our television sets.

But beyond these, and other headlines that hit the news, lie countless untold stories—hidden even from the families and friends of those who suffer. This is the paradox of domestic violence. A feeling of shame, along with other factors, causes victims to stay silent. They guard the secret along with their batterer….

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International Women’s Day Event to Celebrate Ugandan Hero

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In an early celebration of International Women’s Day, Blue Planet Green Living is partnering with A GEM of An Idea to host a live and interactive, online forum featuring the subject of this post, Agnes Nyamayarwo, founder of Mulago Positive Women’s Network.

We’re focusing on Agnes — both here and in the online forum — to celebrate her singular accomplishments as a woman of initiative, courage, and strength.

We invite you to join us February 26, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. EST to speak with Agnes Nyamayarwo live from Uganda via the Internet.

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The Devil You Know

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It is a sad fact
that many of the women
in domestic violence shelters,
at any point in time,
will go back to their abusers.
(yes, it is true)

In fact, a large percentage will go back.
and many will go back more than once.
that means, of course,
that they leave and go back and then
find it necessary to leave again
and go back again
and leave again…

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Take the Itch Away with Motherlove Green Salve

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Last week, I was sitting at my computer alternately scratching my first mosquito bite of the season and trying to page through my emails. No stranger to itching, I had remnants of poison ivy dotting my left knee. My second case of poison ivy so far this summer, darn it all.

And even though symptoms of my annual battle with the toxic vine are lessening each year thanks to a concoction my pharmacist sells, the itching is enough to drive me somewhat mad.

So, when the following email came up on my screen, it immediately caught my attention:

“I’m writing on behalf of summer and all things itchy and scratchy. Figuring Iowa is full of mosquitoes after all the 4th of July rain, I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in reviewing the Green Salve from Motherlove Herbal Company. It’s saving our skin over in Wisconsin. Thanks!

Julie — the new Blog Review Mother for Motherlove Herbal Company”

No way I’d turn down that offer. I immediately wrote back….

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Scented Cleaning Products May Harm Your Health

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Cleaning products that are artificially scented with smells like lilac, lemon, pine, and tropical rainforest may be popular with consumers, but the fragrances themselves shouldn’t be. Each fragrance is potentially made up of hundreds of chemicals — many of them toxic, according to Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).

“It’s basically chemical soup in a lot of these products,” Switalski says.

WVE is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health. The group compiled What’s That Smell?, a landmark report that examines the health effects of hidden fragrance chemicals.

Women are disproportionately affected by the chemicals in fragrances since they use them more frequently than men. They also experience more health effects from the fragrances, such as skin rashes, headaches, and breathing problems. Plus, they can pass chemicals on to their children during pregnancy and breastfeeding….

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Fauna Extreme Coloring Book Inspires Girls

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Fauna Extreme publishes a coloring book targeted to young girls. But it doesn’t have a princess theme or a cute kitty or an adorable pony in it. This is a coloring book about power and strength and athleticism. And I’m going to tell you about it. But first, I want to go back into time and talk a bit about the world I grew up in. Please bear with me.

When I was a little girl (oh, about a million years ago), boys got to do all the cool things. They played with trucks. They played Army. They were daredevils. They even occasionally swore (swear words weren’t as commonplace among kids as they are today). I didn’t want to be a “girly-girl.” I wanted to be tough, too. I had opinions. I liked being physical and running and jumping. But I was frequently told, “You can’t do that; you’re a girl.” It didn’t always stop me, but sometimes it did.

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Beauty Night Heals Mind, Body, and Spirit for Marginalized Women

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Survival sex-workers, drug addicts, and homeless women rarely have an opportunity to feel that someone truly cares about them or to experience human touch in a healthy way. But the volunteers at Beauty Night Society in Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.) are striving to change that.

Caroline MacGillivray is the National Executive Director and Founder of Beauty Night Society. A 1995 graduate of Gastown Actors Studio in Vancouver, her interest in helping marginalized women arose while volunteering at WISH (Women Information Safe House) to conduct research for an upcoming role.

She explains, “My best friend from theater school married a gentleman who was going to school to become a preacher. They were ‘house parents’ at a transition home for sex workers who were trying to get off the street.

“When she would tell what she did, people sometimes seemed judgmental. She’d get questions like, ‘Why are you helping sex workers?’ ‘Why are you helping people with addiction issues? They have no discipline; they have no control,’ and those types of things….

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Fair Trade Connects Local Producers with Global Consumers

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Zulugrass necklaces are at home in both Kenya’s pasturelands and a trendy boutique in Los Angeles. A colorful, coiled group of The Leakey Collection’s Zulugrass™ strands costs $39.95. But what the price tag doesn’t mention is that the woman who cut, dyed, and beaded the native Kenyan grass into this necklace is earning enough money to feed and educate her family for years to come.

Katy and Philip Leakey founded The Leakey Collection™ after a devastating drought a decade ago destroyed the livelihoods of their neighbors in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. As the landscape became charred and depleted, the community’s men moved north to find grazing grounds for their cattle, and the women and children were left behind with no source of income….

Recently, Philip and Katy visited one of these retail outlets — Zero Minus Plus in Santa Monica, California — to discuss the local impact of buying fair trade products. “Fair trade is a response to globalization,” Philip said. “Several decades ago, people produced [goods] for their local markets. With the internationalization of markets, many producers lost their buyers.” Fair trade is a market-based attempt to connect these producers with their new, global consumers, focusing on ethical and sustainable business practices….

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Gently Used Wedding Gowns — More than a Fashion Statement

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You can use eBay and Craigslist to buy anything from boats to aquariums to musical instruments. And when it comes to your wedding day, you can use them to buy your dress, centerpieces, or other décor — but huge Internet marketplaces make this task seem daunting. Some sites, like PreOwned Wedding Dresses, Recycled Bride, and Bride Share, and have narrowed the focus to make online shopping for gently used wedding items simple for brides-to-be….

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W3LL People – “Hippie Tested, Diva Approved”

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There’s a lot to love about W3LL PEOPLE cosmetic products — and not just because they have a smart marketer telling us so. (Who could resist a line like, “Hippie Tested, Diva Approved”?) In our house, every skin- or haircare product gets scrutinized to make sure we’re not using toxic chemicals. With W3LL, that’s not a problem. Here’s what their site says about the ingredients:

“We’re not sure who decided it was a good idea to pack skincare full
of artificial preservatives, fillers and other “scientific” chemicals, but as it turns out they’re not so good for your skin, or the planet.

“W3LL is driven to create a fresh, safe focus on skincare by providing products with proven, medical-grade nutrients that actually work, and don’t increase the mounting toxic load each one of us faces every day.

“So no, our products don’t have a nuclear half-life. But when you think about it, would you really want them to? W3LL is a truly beautiful choice by offering small batch products chock full of live, active natural ingredients every bit as effective as their evil counterparts – while leaving as gentle a footprint on the planet as possible. Now that’s beautiful.”

The company philosophy is beautiful, and so are its products…

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Sprout Baby – Spreading by “Word of Mom”

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With the economy struggling to get back on its feet, you might think a fledgling eco-friendly baby products company wouldn’t stand much of a chance at survival. But California-based Sprout Baby celebrated its first anniversary last week, and the company is going strong.

What’s the secret of their success? And what makes Sprout Baby’s products so good that word-of-mouth advertising is their main — and highly effective — marketing strategy?

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Sprout Baby founder and CEO Jody Sherman by phone from his Los Angeles office to find out….

SHERMAN: I kept hearing over and over again that [moms'] biggest concerns were centered around feeding and chemicals and things they were going to put in, on, and around their babies. They’re being bombarded with information about how damaging chemicals are to babies’ skin and to their health. And they’re worried about hormones in foods and such…. I started talking to some of my friends about, “What if we could start a company that would help moms find eco-conscious, responsible products that are also top-notch, healthy choices for their children?”…

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Green Girl – Organic Luxury Is in the Bag

December 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Clothing, Eco-Friendly, Fashion, Front Page, Reviews, U.S., Women

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While I was waiting for my sample Green Girl Eco Tote to arrive, I went to the company website to check it out. There were so many beautiful bags, with exotic colors and interesting black-and-white designs, I wanted to buy them all. But let’s face it: at $120 each, they weren’t going to make it to my MUST HAVE list, even for an organic bag.

The site makes the Eco Totes sound quite appealing:

Combining the best of fashion and function, Green Girl organic totes stylishly simplify the shopping experience while respecting the purity of the Earth… For the first time, Green Girl unites environmental practicality with high-end fashion sense. As the world moves toward a more sustainable future, Green Girl organic totes are fast becoming the “it” accessory for fashion savvy, eco-aware women across the nation.

I’m all for helping the environment while looking good. So, I was eager to try one out for myself….

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Earth-Friendly Fashion Cry – “Save the Ties!”

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A few years ago Brooke Costello couldn’t use the word “recycled” in describing the unique line of fashion accessories she produces at the helm of her independent Chicago-based design company, Tongue Tied.

“That didn’t help the sale,” she explains. “So I coined the term ‘respirited.’ I’ve seen it used by other people since, but I believe that term originated with me.”

Now the association of her wares with the recycling movement contributes substantially to the bottom line. “People across every socioeconomic level are responding to the concept,” she says. “Shopping in resale boutiques is born of the philosophy that you don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to wear couture.” …

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Jen’s Kitchen — Serving Up Sandwiches and Humanity to Survival Sex Workers

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On any given night, between 7 PM and 1 AM, Jennifer Allan walks from street corner to street corner in a section of Vancouver, British Columbia known as the Downtown Eastside. She is looking for prostitutes. They are easy to find at this hour, in this place, where drug addiction is common, and addicts will do almost anything for their next fix. But Allan is not seeking sex or drugs or stereotypes. She is reaching out to hurting, hungry people. She carries with her a basket of sandwiches and a heart filled with compassion.

Jennifer Allan is the founder and sole proprietor of Jen’s Kitchen, which she describes to me by phone as “an advocacy, outreach, food-relief program.” She adds, “We work with survival sex workers, single mums, victims of domestic violence, and women getting out of federal and provincial prison.”

The term “survival sex worker” is new to me, so I ask Allan to define it….

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Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

August 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Audio, Blog, Books, Front Page, Poverty, Women

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Women hold up half the sky – Chinese Proverb

Mercy Corps is inviting book clubs and reading groups throughout the nation to read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Their book tells the inspiring stories of brave women who have overcome the most terrible circumstances to set their lives on a bright new path.

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Make a Difference in Hunger, One Person or Village at a Time

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When most people I know talk about hunger, we are referring to a rumbling emptiness in our stomachs that makes us look forward to our next meal in a few minutes or, at worst, a few hours. We get hungry, but we are far from starving. Yet I have known plenty of kids whose only meals were the breakfasts and lunches they received at school. I’ve seen hungry people standing in line waiting for a free lunch. This is what hunger looks like in the U.S. and most other industrialized nations…

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